The cheese box, a tool originally designed for transporting cheeses in branded containers, found additional uses in the aging room of some cheesemakers. Cheese wheels are often aged on a rack and to ensure even aging, the cheeses are turned everyday at the start of the aging process. Because large wheels of cheese can be very delicate when they are young, cheese boxes were used to protect the cheeses during flipping. Here’s how:
The wheel of cheese would be placed on top of a cheese box cover. When the time came to flip the cheese over and expose the other side of the cheese, a cover would be placed on the top of the cheese, the cheese would be removed from the shelf (still with a cover on the bottom of the cheese, so it is now protected on both sides) and then flipped so that the new cheese box cover is supporting the bottom of the cheese as it rests on the aging rack. The top cover would then be removed and used to repeat the process on the next cheese until all the cheeses had been flipped.
Cheese boxes were made of maple, ash, or hickory bentwood sides nailed to pine discs on the top and bottom. They were typically used for transporting the cheese wheels. The boxes were also likely printed with the name of the farm or factory and type of cheese.
Featured post image from The National Historic Cheesemaking Center